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19 February 2018 VCSELs in short-pulse operation for time-of-flight applications
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VCSEL arrays are the ideal light source for 3D imaging applications. The narrow emission spectrum and the ability for short pulses make them superior to LEDs. Combined with fast photodiodes or special camera chips spatial information can be obtained which is needed in diverse applications like camera autofocus, indoor navigation, 3D-object recognition, augmented reality or autonomously driving vehicles. Pulse operation at the ns scale and at low duty cycle can work with significantly higher current than traditionally used for VCSELs in continuous wave operation. With reduced thermal limitations at low average heat dissipation very high currents become feasible and tens of Watts output power have been realized with small VCSEL chips. The optical emission pattern of VCSELs can be tailored to the desired field of view using beam shaping elements. Such optical elements also enable laser safe class 1 products. A detailed analysis of the complete system and the operation mode is required to calculate the maximum permitted power for a safe system. The good VCSEL properties like robustness, stability over temperature and the potential for integrated solutions open a huge potential for VCSELs in new mass applications in the consumer and automotive markets.
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Holger Moench, Stephan Gronenborn, Xi Gu, Ralph Gudde, Markus Herper, Johanna Kolb, Michael Miller, Michael Smeets, and Alexander Weigl "VCSELs in short-pulse operation for time-of-flight applications", Proc. SPIE 10552, Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Lasers XXII, 105520G (19 February 2018);

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